Tag Archives: Menu

PaRi Pasticceria, Concord

PaRi Pasticceria, named after owners Paolo and Rita, opened just after the new year. For some time now, they have wanted to share with Sydney some of the sweets they grew up with in their home town in Sicily in Italy’s south. A pretty little spot with parquetry floors and marble tables on the Concord strip, the shelves at PaRi are laden with glistening deliciousness and service comes with a smile and authentic Italian accents.

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They particularly wanted to serve traditional Sicilian granita with brioche, something you’ll find many enjoying in the piazza in Taormina in Italy during the hot Summer for breakfast. I tried the refreshing espresso granita (it usually comes with cream on top if you choose) and it’s generous enough to share. There are a few flavours to choose from, among them strawberry, almond and pistachio. The texture of granita varies from place to place in Italy, with PaRi’s version being a smoother sorbet style.

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The Marito and I both loved the brioche with the ricotta and pear compote

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The baba was lovely, one of the better ones I’ve tried in Sydney, as was the ricotta cake.

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The (Not So) Small People rated their Nutella ciambella.

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You’ll also find plenty of other traditional Sicilian sweets such as cannoli and Minne di Sant’Agata (Saint Agatha’s breasts), a sweet with ricotta, chocolate and candied fruit. In the next few weeks you’ll find a traditional Pignolata Messinese, something hard to come by down under.

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If you’re not into sweet stuff, there are arancini with ragu and vegetarian arancini (I really liked the spinach filling, next time I will try pistachio which I’ve never had before) as well as focaccia. There’s a breakfast and brunch menu and a small selection for lunch.

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PaRi Pasticceria, 83 Majors Bay Road Concord, Ph 02 9743 425

PaRi Pasticceria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Fourth Fish, Lane Cove

We’d had a manic day and no cooking was going to go on in the Napoli household that night.  So we headed up to Lane Cove to check out a recently opened seafood café in the plaza.   It’s got cute nautical theming (I like the blue chairs outside) and the staff were friendly and efficient.

There’s some good value, straight forward food going on in a casual setting.  The grilled fish and chips – take your pick of barramundi, salmon or swordfish – is a good choice at $18 and comes with a refreshing crisp salad.

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So too is the fisherman’s basket, for $26 which has a tasty fish fillet, crumbed prawn, calamari, chips, a couple of oysters and some olives.

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The chargrilled octopus was a little disappointing, a little chewy, and it was cold (I asked if was meant to be, the waiter wasn’t sure) but I did like the salad underneath.

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On the off chance you’re going to a seafood restaurant but don’t actually want seafood, there’s a steak option as well. In addition to the normal menu, there’s a selection of specials.  The lunch menu varies slightly and has a fish burger.
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Fourth Fish Café & Restaurant, 12-16 Burns Bay Road Lane Cove, ph 02 9427 4896

Fourth Fish Cafe and Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Qantas First Class Lounge, Los Angeles

Whenever we go to the US, we typically fly out of Los Angeles. The lounge offering to date in the States has been somewhat, well, awful compared to what we are used to in Australia (yes I know, spoilt, first world problem and all that). But late last year Qantas opened a dedicated First Lounge at LAX for its Platinum frequent flyers & First Class passengers. It doesn’t have all the glitz and glamour of the Sydney lounge, but it is a vast improvement on what was previously available. Our flight was leaving at 10pm so it was nice to sit in peace and quiet – in the evening it was nice and serene in there – and have a very decent meal before boarding.

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As with other lounges, the menu is designed by our own Neil. There’s a short cocktail list and some good wines on offer.

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You’ll find a few Sydney favourites plus some others. The boys will always hoover a minute steak or two whenever we go to the lounges.

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While the Marito enjoyed a very nice piece of halibut with some nice sides (creamed corn was delicious).

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I went for a frangrant Spice Temple-y pork dish

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The classic salt and pepper squid was tasty and nicely done

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And the hamachi was fresh, but the presentation was a little uninspiring

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Finish off with a little cheese

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…and a trifle

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And you’re ready to take off

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Qantas First Class Lounge, Airside, Level 5, LAX

Sud, Concord

It’s no secret that Italy has been in some fairly dire economic circumstances in recent years. This has meant there has been an exodus of its young, highly educated workforce. I was surprised to find on a trip to our Hong Kong office last year a cluster of people from Milan and Rome – extremely talented, they couldn’t be in an environment more different from home (“have you seen the price of prosciutto here!” one of them said to me), but necessity has meant they had to leave it behind and find employment elsewhere.

Australia has also been the beneficiary of this exodus, particularly in hospitality and food. Attracted by our climate – which is not that dissimilar to Southern Italy – our great produce, and an existing large Italian population (they’re bound to find a long lost relative or a cousin somewhere), we’ve seen some very talented Italian chefs, pizzaioli and gelato makers arrive on our shores. Paolo Gatto is one of those. He and his wife Rita arrived in Australia in 2008, and opened Gatto Matto in 2011. It has gotten better and better since my first visit, driven by Paolo’s passion (the name Crazy Cat is no coincidence) and Rita’s warmth. They have now opened a second venue, Sud, which simply means South. Southern Italian street food is the order of the day – it is where they are from, and it is the food close to their heart.

We arrive relatively early but within half an hour the place is buzzing, pretty good just one week after opening. While I sip my Bellini we peruse the menu, which is charmingly smattered with Sicilian dialect, and debate what to order – over-ordering would be very easy here because there is plenty to tempt. Fortunately most dishes are for sharing so we get to try quite a bit, though I see plenty of other dishes emerging from the kitchen, including a fabulous large antipasto platter for a big group, that we will have to try next time. The pizza bases are excellent and so are the toppings. But one of the favourites of the night is the baby octopus that comes with the spiedinu. I find out that it has undergone six hours of confit – if that’s Sicilian street food, unemployment be damned, I’m moving there; the rosemary flavoured wedges that accompany it are delicious too. The trofie cu sugu is also another winner (if it is nonna’s recipe as it says on the menu then to be expected), a fragrant, rich, robust meat sauce.

We are wondering what to order for dessert and aren’t convinced when the raviolo di ricotta is suggested to us, but decide to give it a whirl and we love it. It is a giant raviolio which can easily serve 4, and I’m glad the honey is on the side because I don’t think this light dough with a gorgeous creamy filling needs any further embellishment. The cuzzoli, light ribbons of dough to be dipped in the accompanying Nutella, are a crowd pleaser, but anything with Nutella always will be.

With generous serves, great flavour, and an attractive price point – the most expensive menu item is $28 – you’ll find a great little slice of Southern Italy in downtown Concord.

Arancini – deep fried rice balls filled with ragu and peas
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Panzerotti fritti – fried calzone filled with mozzarella and ham
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Calamari and chips
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Pizza Margherita
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Pizza vegeteriana – fiordilatte mozzarella, mushrooms, eggplant, zucchini and truffle oil
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Pizza Italiana – fiordilatter mozzarella, prosciutto, rocket, cherry tomatoes, parmesan
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Trofie cu sugu
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Spiedinu di pisci – prawn and swordfish skewer with baby octopus, salad and potato wedges
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Raviolo di ricotta – sweet ravioli stuffed with candied fruits
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Sud, 10 Cabarita Road, Concord Ph (02) 9739 6120

Sud on Urbanspoon

Johnny Lobster, Crows Nest

When I heard about a place serving Maine style lobster rolls in nearby Crows Nest, I had to check it out.  Johnny Lobster is its name – its a cute, fun, casual eatery with an appealing menu.  You can eat in or takeaway, and I thought the prices were very good.

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The lobster roll at $20 is the most expensive item on the menu.  It is bigger than I expected, with an excellent brioche bun and fresh, succulent lobster.  People will even cross the bridge for this.

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The other dishes are good too, served with a very fresh, crisp salad.  The salad dressing needs a little work (just tastes like oil has been squirted on it) but its a minor thing in the scheme of it, considering the place has only been open a week. I note on the menu it says all the seafood is from sustainable sources.

Grilled fish with salad – you’d have to be pretty happy with this for lunch or dinner at $10.80

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Chilli octopus and salt and pepper squid

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Soft shell crab

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Thrice cooked hand cut chips – forget your new year’s resolutions and diet, and grab a bowl.  Seriously good.

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I’d say its going to be a hit.

Johnny Lobster, 48 Willoughby Road, Crows Nest

Johnny Lobster on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Menu Dictionary


I do often wonder if wait staff around Sydney get tired of answering “and what’s this?” when it comes to menus, and quash the urge to roll their eyes. I’ve been to a few restaurants in my time (just a few) and am constantly seeing new ingredients which leave me clueless. “Salisfy”, for instance, sounds more like a verb, than a noun (“I salsified my carrots”). And are konbu and kombu actually the same thing but someone has spelled it wrong? A quick scour of current menus at hatted establishments around town revealed that ingredients ‘du jour’ include amaranth, konbu, ponzu, wakame, and Glacier 51 toothfish (as opposed to Glacier 52, terrible quality apparently)……..and of course, kale – in fact I think Parliament may have now passed legislation that prohibits kale’s absence from any menu. Anyway a little guide to keep in your back pocket, so you can nod knowledgably when your waiter is going through the specials of the day.

Agretti                      An edible leaf also known as salt wort
Agave                       A type of succulent plant that can be made into a sweet nectar
Ajvar                         Croatian relish, typically made from bell peppers
Albacore tuna          A white tuna with milder flavour
Allemande sauce     French sauce based on a veloute but thickened with cream
Amaranth                 A seed, often referred to as a ‘superfood’
Amuse bouche         Meaning “to please the mouth”, a complimentary course , typically spoonful
or bite size, as a precursor to your meal
Bagna cauda            Italian for “hot bath”, a type of warm dip often served with julienned
Black pudding          A blood sausage, typically made from pigs blood
Bottarga                   Salted cured fish roe originating from Sicily & Sardinia
Brandade                 A puree of salt cod and potatoes
Burrata                     Italian cheese made from mozzarella and cream (devine)
Cassava                    A type of root plant. It can be made into alcohol, cooked as a side dish, or
milled into a type of flour
Cavolo Nero            A black leaf kale, part of the cabbage family
Ceviche                    A seafood dish where the seafood is basically cooked using lemon or lime
Chirashi                   Vinegared sushi rice topped with vegetables or sashimi
Cotechino                Italian cured pork sausage, containing pork skin as well as meat. Must be
cooked before eating
Daikon                     White radish
Escabeche               Fish dish where fish is either poached or fried
Farro                        An ancient wheat variety with a somewhat nutty flavour
Feijoa                       Plant native to South America, often called pineapple guava
Freekeh                   Green roasted wheat
Fregola                    Type of Sardinian pasta in the shape of little beads, usually made from
Glacier 51 Toothfish   A brand of sustainable toothfish from WA vicinity
Katsuobushi            Japanese dried and fermented tuna
Kimchi                     Traditional Korean dish of fermented vegetables, usually cabbage or daikon
Kohlrabi                  A vegetable, part of the cabbage family
Koji                          A type of fungus, often used in Korean and Japanese cuisine
Kombu lettuce       Type of seaweed
Konbu                      Type of seaweed
Labne                       A Middle Eastern cheese made from strained yoghurt
Manchego               Spanish cheese made from sheep’s milk
Meuniere sauce     Simple French sauce of butter, parsely, and lemon, typically used for cooking
flour coated fish
Miche                      A rustic French sourdough
Mignonette           Sauce typically served with raw oysters containing shallots, vinegar, pepper
Mojama                  Salt cured tuna
Nam Prik                Chilli based Thai hot sauce
Nasturtium            Type of edible flower
Oba leaf                 Edible green leaf used in Korean and Japanese cuisine
Oloroso sauce      Thick sherry sauce
Padron                   Variety of green pepper
Pandan                  An Asian green tropical plant whose leaves are often used in Asian desserts
Ponzu                     Japanese citrus sauce
Purslane                Also known as pig weed, an edible member of the succulent family
Remoulade            A French sauce, similar to a mayonnaise
Riberry                   A red native Australian berry
Rillette                   A rillette is like a meat ‘spread’, typically made with pork but can also be made
with duck or rabbit
Romesco               Spanish sauce usually made with almonds and red peppers
Salmoriglio           A green Italian condiment often served with meat containing parsely, oil,
lemon juice, oregano
Salsify                   A root vegetable also called the oyster plant
Salty ice plant      A plant from the succulent family
Samfaina              A vegetable sauce typically made with onions, eggplant, peppers and tomato
Sancho                 Japanese pepper
Shanklish              Type of Syrian cheese
Shiso                     An Asian herb related to mint
Skipjack                Medium size type of tuna
Sous vide             Method of cooking food in a sealed vaccuum bag submerged in water
Sukiyaki               Japanese hot pot
Sweetbread        Nothing to do with actual bread. It is the thymus gland, especially of the calf and lamb
Tahini                   A paste made from sesame seeds an oil
Takuan                Pickled radish
Tobiko                 Flying fish roe (that orange stuff you sometime see on top of sushi rolls)
Tonnato              An Italian mayonnaise type sauce flavoured with tuna
Trompette          A dark mushroom sometimes called ‘false truffle’
Umeboshi          Pickled ume fruits, often called Japanese salt plums
Upland cress      A type of herb with a peppery taste
Vacherin             Type of creamy cow’s milk cheese
Veloute               A French soup or sauce, usually made from chicken, veal or fish stock and
thickened with butter and flour
Verjuice              An acidic juice made from unripe grapes; also verjus
Wakame             Another type of edible seaweed

Hartsyard, Newtown

005 (2)“Theirs is a typical New York hospitality story. He was the chef. She was the hostess”, proclaims the website, and goes on to describe a blossoming romance. Too cute. After dragging her man back to Australia, it was time to start their own restaurant. Fortunately though, owners Naomi Hart and Greg Llewellyn did not go the Bennifer or Brangelina route, or the place could have been called Nareg or Graomi. Naomi landed naming rights while Greg worked the hotplates.

They go on to describe it as an “inner city homestead” and certainly you feel comfortable as you walk in the door and take a seat – its small and cosy, simple wooden tables, a few pieces of art on the walls, and nothing too fussy . But it’s a homestead with surprises, part American soul food and part wild re-invention, with plenty of plating artistry thrown in. There were seven of us that night and we had a good crack at most of the menu, and ate way more than was good for us, but we couldn’t help it.

Note to dieters: go away.

The menu is divided into a “Seed” and “Feed” section rather than your standard entrée and main monikers, but the Seeds were pretty generous and you could make a great meal out of those alone. Actually, make that an excellent meal, because the Seeds were all fantastic. You could devour a bowl of those potato skins, which go beautifully with that tender octopus. And who would of thought of duck rillettes in a jaffle – bought back memories of the Breville Snack ‘n Sandwich maker my mother has hiding in the cupboard somewhere – with a devine cherry concoction plus a great hazelnut crunch. The Po’ Boys – a deep fried oyster with coleslaw and mayo on a delicious muffin – well, they are as good as everyone says. Short of time? Duck in, grab a seat at the bar, have a couple of them with a clever cocktail (such as the Hartyard Manhatten with bacon infused Jack Daniels) and be on your merry way. And how good could a Saturday night at the movies be with a bag of prawn popcorn?

Oyster Po’ Boy on an English muffin, Old Bay mayo, coleslaw

Fremantle Octopus with potato skins, white corn, piquillo peppers

Duck Rillettes Jaffle with cherry, foie gras, hazelnut praline

School Prawn Popcorn with espelette pepper, sour cream, lemon

We then moved onto the Feeds. My pick of these was undoubtedly the pulled pork which pulled in all the right ways. The cauliflower was also a surprise, cleverly served slab style rather than the usual florets. The fried chicken, while crispy and not at all greasy, didn’t have the punch of flavour I expected but the accompanying glorious country sausage gravy took it where it was supposed to go.

Pulled Pork with maple bacon, yoghurt, apple

Cauliflower with Smoked raisin, porcini marmalade, queso fresco, pecan

Fried Chicken with buttermilk biscuit, low country sausage gravy

Smoked Brisket with pastrami spice, special sauce, sauerkraut, rye

Ricotta Gnudi with roasted broccoli, pecorino tartufo, chanterelles

The deserts are charmingly called “Out to Pasture” and I tell you if there was a pasture at the back of the restaurant, at that point, we probably would have gone to lie down in it. But in for a penny, in for a pound. There were four desserts, so of course we thought we would try them all. If you want something more traditional looking, go the Peanut Butter and Banana Sundae; the other desserts took a more deconstructed format and were gorgeously presented. The crowd favourite, and an unexpected one at that, was the pumpkin pie, where the pumpkin took the form of paper thin wafers and the whisky flavoured ice cream provided a great lift.

Peanut Butter + Banana Sundae with pretzel ice-cream, banana doughnut, salted fudge & Pumpkin Pie with rice custard, Jack Daniels ice-cream, spiced pear, pecan praline
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Chocolate and Honey chocolate ganache, dehydrated mousse, sorrel sorbet, crispy quinoa, pomegranate & Vanilla Cheesecake with raspberry cookie dough, lemon ice-cream, raspberry meringue hartsyard dessert2

Greg and Naomi’s love story is undoubtedly one that worked well. Head on over to Newtown and witness the romance yourself.

Hartsyard, 33 Enmore Road Newtown, ph 02 8068 1473

Hartsyard on Urbanspoon

Din Tai Fung, Westfield Sydney

I was always happy to traipse to the other side of town to get to DTF at World Square, after all these are the best Xiao Long Bao in town. The World Square restaurant was such a raging success that the DTF headquarters in Taiwan thought they’d try a Down Under experiment – a little ‘express’ version in a food court with a smaller menu, that even offered takeaway (There is also one at Star City). Right in the centre of town in the Westfield food court, this means I can just go more often and get my favourites. The best thing to do is go with a couple of friends then you can order a handful of dishes to try and still eat quite cheaply.

The queue is generally huge but the crowd of XLB worker bees churn them out quickly and there is never a long wait. Tick what you want on your order form and hand it over, or order with the cashier. When your buzzer goes off, grab your tray and find a table. Easy!


Ah the XLBs. One of the things Din Tai Fung rests its cap on is consistency – and these are consistently good. The dumpling dough is super fine, and the hot soup explodes when you bite in.


Shrimp and pork jiao ze – a close second.


I also hardly ever go past their green beans and mince pork.


And for a bit of spice, shrimp and pork wonton noodle with spicy sauce.


A great and quick relatively cheap eat!

Din Tai Fung, Westfield, Level 5, Pitt St, open 7 days

Din Tai Fung Dumpling Bar on Urbanspoon

Din Tai Fung on Urbanspoon

Bourke Street Bakery, Neutral Bay

011 No, it is not a typo, Bourke St Bakery has finally come Over The Bridge and added another little post in Neutral Bay. They make sensational baguettes and chocolate tarts, but there are times when, frankly, you just can’t be bothered driving to Surry Hills and standing in line to pick them up (yeh yeh yeh sacreligious for a “foodie” – did I mention I detest that word – but there are other things to do as well besides driving around to get things to eat, such as read food magazines and cook books). Though we did have trouble finding the place – a quick phone call (“look for the wheelbarrow”, pictured above) soon led us to a nondescript little corner. It’s a teeny little place with ten or so seats inside and the same again outside, so don’t come with hoards of your friends to sit down. The menu has pies, sausage rolls, sandwiches, even pizza, and there is also a daily soup. 003 002We had to try one of each of the sausage rolls – a vegetarian (chickpea, fetta, eggplant and spinach), the lamb and harissa, and the pork and fennel. The pork and fennel was the crowd favourite, the lamb second, and the vegetarian got thumbs down all round – it was dry, and there was way too much spice (cumin?) which meant you couldn’t taste much else. A tip for the staff – don’t put the paper napkins underneath the sausage rolls – they stick and then you have to peel them off! 004 007Then onto the beef and brisket pie. Phoar, look at that inside – good pie, proper chunks of meat and nice gravy. There isn’t any elegant way to cut or eat it. 006 008The non-diet continued and we moved onto the tarts – rhubarb, ginger brulee, and milk chocolate. 009 The rhubarb surprised me in a good way, it was much better than I expected with a nice balance of sweet and rhubarb acidity, and a lovely pastry. The ginger brulee lives up to the hype – incredibly luscious custard with a perfect amount of ginger, I’ll be back for another. Its a perfect size given the richness. And the milk chocolate which is smooth and a always a good chocolate hit. After pretending that we were just thinking about it, we admitted we really wanted to try the carrot cake and got that as well. 010 It was good, but as my friend aptly commented, its “just another carrot cake”, and not one you’d travel for. The tarts, now they are worth some miles, and now that they are in Neutral Bay, I’ll need to do less of them.

Bourke Street Bakery, Grovenor St, Neutral Bay
Bourke Street Bakery on Urbanspoon

Qantas International First Class Lounge, Sydney


Somehow last year I scraped in Qantas Platinum Status, which gave me access to the much talked about First Class Lounge, and I’ve had the chance to enjoy it a few times. I’ve seen people try and sell their complimentary passes online for $70! Is it worth that – well if you down some of the quality bubbles they have on offer (Bolly, Taittinger, Veuve and the like), some excellent wine, a three course meal, and have a massage and a facial, it most certainly is. Its such a wonderfully civilised way to travel, and if you intend to work or sleep on your flight, having a freshly prepared, made-to-order meal here instead of on the plane is a relaxing and quality option. Not having to wait for the bill and walking off when you’re done is even better.

Plenty of people get here early for their flight, so there can sometimes be a wait for a table for the restaurant. With lots of light, high ceilings, and spaced out seating, you won’t mind lounging around, no pun intended. Or you can sit at the bar. The black or white jacketed waiters will escort you to a table and take your order – as I said, very civilised travel. The menu is a mix of classic comfort food and Neil Perry’s Modern Asian – if you have the time you could certainly plan yourself a degustation of sorts. The Club Sandwich, beef burger and the salt and pepper squid are hugely popular, but there are plenty of healthy and fresh options.

Breakfast dishes are served till 12pm, after that they have the “All Day Dining” menu which changes seasonally, plus a regularly changing menu of “Market Inspirations”.

If you can’t get into the lounge yourself, then I suggest befriending someone that can!

Salmon Sashimi
Salmon Sashimi

Buffalo Mozzarella and vine ripened tomato salad

Salt and Pepper Squid

Wagyu carpaccio with potato, egg and caper salad – excellent carpaccio

Thai style hot and fragrant chicken (very very good, reminiscent of something you’d find at Spice Temple)

Fish burger
fish burger

Duck broth with soy duck, duck broth, mushrooms and farro

Sticky Toffee Pudding with caramel sauce
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Qantas First Class Lounge, Terminal 1, Sydney, open 7 days